Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


In you I was sure of a mind strong enough to break the fetters of habit.

You don't want to let him be the one to break it because you lost your money, do you?

I am not faint-hearted,” said Stephen; “but I will not break mine oath to my master.

My master would deem me ungrateful, Ambrose break his heart.

He dreaded to break the news to his mother, for he knew that it would distress her.

"Another tribe is trying to break into our land," he said to himself.

Daubenton took it up, and began carelessly to break an egg with it.

In a few days John Lambert would return, and then the storm must break.

Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.

And they think you are resolved to break theirs: so tit for tat, Miss.


Old English brecan "to break, shatter, burst; injure, violate, destroy, curtail; break into, rush into; burst forth, spring out; subdue, tame" (class IV strong verb; past tense bræc, past participle brocen), from Proto-Germanic *brekan (cf. Old Frisian breka, Dutch breken, Old High German brehhan, German brechen, Gothic brikan), from PIE root *bhreg- "to break" (see fraction). Most modern senses were in Old English. In reference to the heart from early 13c. Meaning "to disclose" is from early 13c.

Break bread "share food" (with) is from late 14c. Break the ice is c.1600, in reference to the "coldness" of encounters of strangers. Break wind first attested 1550s. To break (something) out (1890s) probably is an image from dock work, of freeing cargo before unloading it. Ironic theatrical good luck formula break a leg has parallels in German Hals- und Beinbruch "break your neck and leg," and Italian in bocca al lupo. Evidence of a highly superstitious craft (cf. Macbeth).


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.